If a Passing Truck Offers Cheap Asphalt Paving, It's a Leftover Scam

"Low Price" Doesn't Always Equal "Good Deal"

New asphalt driveway landscaped with flowers.
Asphalt driveways offers a clean look and are popular in some parts of the U.S. alejandrophotography/Getty Images

Someone driving by in a truck offers you cheap asphalt paving. You are told that you are getting it at a low cost because it is extra material that the crew had left over after completing a job, so they are willing to give you a deal just to get rid of it. It sounds good, does it not? But should you take them up on it? Or is this a case where "low price" does not equal "a good deal?"

The Leftover Asphalt Paving Scam

Resist the temptation to take them up on it.

Often handymen who have just finished an asphalt paving job will have leftover asphalt from that job, and they figure that they can come away with some quick cash, instead of getting rid of it. They will offer to pave your driveway at a cheap price. Usually, "cheap" is wonderful and worth pursuing, but not in this instance: What they are offering is actually a bad deal at any price, regardless of how inexpensive it seems.

For one thing, asphalt paving must be applied while it is still hot, and this leftover material will be too cool to do the job properly. Secondly, such fly-by-night hucksters will not be under contract, meaning that they can neglect critical considerations such as a providing a suitable base and proper drainage for the asphalt paving (to say nothing of neglecting the "extras" such as taking care not to damage your landscape plants and cleaning up properly after the job is done).

They may not even have insurance (in case a mishap occurs while the work is being done). And, of course, you can forget about a guarantee. No, you are better off in the long run doing your homework (checking references to find out if they are reputable contractors) and spending the extra money on asphalt paving intended specifically for your driveway.

In fact, as a general rule, avoid striking deals with strangers who seek you out, offering to improve your property (or repair something on it) at a cut rate. Think about it: What is their motivation to go out of their way in this manner? This is not to say that all of them are crooked. But a sounder policy is for you to be the one to initiate such transactions. Legitimate contractors do not need to drum up business on the fly (in fact, they are often so busy that they will have to put you on a waiting list). Nor will they rush you into making decisions.

First, know what you want (or need), gain an understanding ahead of time of what the job entails, then seek out trusted, qualified businesses who have served the community for a number of years, without having had any serious complaints registered against them (you can check on this through the Better Business Bureau).